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Artful Living | Gallerist Leslie Hammons on Erik Madigan Heck’s Art

Photography by Bade Turgut

Born and raised in Minnesota, photographer Erik Madigan Heck has made a name for himself in the fashion world thanks to collaborations with top designers like Chanel and Valentino as well as commissions from publications like Harper’s Bazaar and The New York Times Magazine. Here in Minneapolis, Weinstein Hammons Gallery exclusively represents his ethereal, eye-catching artwork. We chatted with co-owner Leslie Hammons about the gallery’s longstanding partnership with Heck, his unique aesthetic and more.

How did your partnership with Erik Madigan Heck come to be?

I started at the gallery in 2007, and at that time, Martin Weinstein was already familiar with Erik Madigan Heck and his work from him visiting the gallery with his mother while he was in high school. His work was very different at the time — moody black-and-white imagery instead of the vibrant color and pattern bordering on textural that he is known for today.

Artful Living | Gallerist Leslie Hammons on Erik Madigan Heck’s Art

“Without a Face” series (2013) | Photography by Erik Madigan Heck

What initially drew you to his artwork?

I became interested in Erik’s work after we visited his Lower Manhattan apartment one evening while we were in New York City for an art fair in 2016. The two things that caught my eye were the floor-to-ceiling scale and, at the time, many of his images featured models who were looking away from the camera for his “Without a Face” series.

How would you describe Erik’s aesthetic?

Erik’s approach to photography has always been painterly and draws inspiration from Les Nabis, a group of young painters living in Paris in the late 1800s — namely their incorporation of bold patterning. That said, his work is filled with contradictions; some images are stark and monochrome, while others are bursting off the wall.

Artful Living | Gallerist Leslie Hammons on Erik Madigan Heck’s Art

Photography by Bade Turgut

How do you think Erik is shaping the current art world narrative?

Erik had created numerous covers and stories for newspapers and magazines including The New York Times (and The New York Times Magazine), TIME, the New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar and Vanity Fair. Needless to say, his work has been seen all over the world, so it’s hard to know the ripple effect of that kind of reach. Whether it’s creating a minimalist image for the The New York Times when the Met put on the Comme des Garçons exhibition in 2017 or a sweeping landscape published in his second major monograph, The Garden, Erik’s style is so singular that you know one of his photographs when you see one.

How does Erik’s work fit into the overall offerings at Weinstein Hammons?

Weinstein Hammons Gallery (née Weinstein Gallery in 1996) has always had a commitment to artists who are from/live in Minnesota, such as Alec Soth and Ruben Nusz. Additionally, the gallery has shown fashion photography over the years, including The Fashion Show in 2014an exhibition that looked at the work of 12 female fashion photographers — the first show of its kind.

Artful Living | Gallerist Leslie Hammons on Erik Madigan Heck’s Art

“Saskia in Comme” (2017) | Photography by Erik Madigan Heck | Weinstein Hammons Gallery

What exciting developments are on the horizon at the gallery?

We are looking forward to fall here at the gallery! We are opening a major Gordon Parks exhibition, Song Called Hope, in October on the subject of children. The photographs are starting to arrive for framing, and they are stunning. We also plan on opening Justin Newhall’s Funispace, featuring black-and-white photographs he took in the mountains while living in Verbier, Switzerland.

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